CAL FIRE planes housed on the Redding Air Attack base typically don’t take flight until a full month from now. But this year’s declared drought and high threat for dangerous wildfires has crews ready to take to the sky even earlier.
"Every fire season, nobody knows exactly what's going to happen so just with how the activity was this winter, we just want to be prepared," explained Ryan Dorosz, fire fighter with CAL FIRE.
Two air tankers wait patiently out on the runway, ready to take to the sky and attack flames from above the Northstate.
"Tanker 94, that will drop the retardant. We keep 900 gallons on them at all times ... our combat load is what we call it,” stated Dorosz.
Just feet from where the tankers are parked, more than 96,000 gallons of fire retardant is ready to be loaded into the pair of planes.
The copper colored substance is used to keep control over fast moving flames.
"We use the retardant in place of water because it will hold longer. It's meant to be able to have a stopping power for the fire, so when the fire runs up to it, it won't easily dry it up like it would with water," explained Dorosz.
The other main plane on the CAL FIRE Air Attack force is considered the 'eyes' of the operation.
"Air attack 240, they keep in communication with the tankers and the ground units, let them know what the fire is doing and when the tankers are coming in for drops,” said Dorosz.